This was only planned as a two-part series, but a further quick thought occurs. It’s much more about forehands versus backhands in general than about I/O throws in particular, but it does rather follow on from the previous post. I’m still thinking about Jim Parinella’s data that suggested forehands are turned over more often than backhands.
In addition to the difficulty of raising the front edge on a forehand, I would argue that most people also have less control of the sideways tilt on the disc – the extent to which it is I/O or roll curve. Specifically, most people’s forehand grip doesn’t provide great resistance to the far edge of the disc being lifted.
If you hold the disc in a backhand grip at a roll curve angle, and imagine the wind blowing hard into the bottom of the disc (or push it with your other hand to simulate the wind) you’ll probably find that you can still hold the disc where you want to. But if you do the same on the forehand side, you’ll probably find that it takes relatively little pressure to tilt the disc towards the vertical.
Further evidence of this also comes from air-bounce throws – most people can quickly learn to throw an air-bounce backhand (indeed, there are people who seem barely able to stop throwing them . . .) but players with an air-bounce forehand are very few and far between. It’s harder to lift the front edge with a forehand grip, as discussed previously, but it’s also much harder to push down on the top of the disc in the required way for an air-bounce.
Most people’s backhand grip will have the whole of the thumb – all three bones, including the bit hidden in your palm – on top of the disc, whereas on the forehand you probably use (at most) the top two bones. It’s definitely not just my grip that’s like that – I asked Rob McLeod from Ultimate Rob to send over a couple of shots of his grip (I think we can probably agree he’s an elite thrower) and you can see how little of his hand is on top of the disc for a forehand.
I think you could make a case that the backhand grip is simply more secure, and hence easier to control. We’ve all seen people turf forehands when their backswing was affected by the wind, but it’s much less common for that to happen on the backhand.
And even without the wind, perhaps that weaker grip on the forehand makes it harder to make late adjustments to the angle of the disc. Unless you’re able to go through the whole throwing motion with the disc at the same angle – which few of us do on the forehand – there’ll be some sort of air-resistance when we change that angle. Our grip is less able to fight that resistance than on the backhand, and a difference of one or two degrees can easily be the difference between a completion and a turnover.
I’m not really suggesting any solutions – sorry! – just thinking aloud about the differences between forehands and backhands . . .
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